The History and Proceedings of the House of Commons: Volume 8, 1733-1734. Originally published by Chandler, London, 1742.
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SPEECHES AND DEBATES IN THE House of Commons, DURING The Seventh and Last Session of the Seventh Parliament of Great Britain.
Anno 7, Geo. II. 1733-34.
On Thursday the 17th of January the Parliament being met at Westminster, pursuant to their last Prorogation, the King came to the House of Lords, and being seated upon the Throne with the usual State and Solemnity, and the Commons being sent for up and attending, his Majesty open'd the Session with the following Speech to both Houses:
The King's Speech at opening the Seventh Session.
My Lords and Gentlemen,
The War, which is now begun, and carry'd on, against the Emperor, with so much Vigour, by the united Powers of France, Spain, and Sardinia, is become the Object of the Care and Attention of all Europe; and though I am no ways engaged in it, and have had no Part, except by my good Offices, in those Transactions, which have been declared to be the principal Causes and Motives of it, I cannot sit regardless of the present Events, or be unconcerned for the future Consequences of a War, undertaken and supported by so powerful an Alliance.
"If ever any Occasion required more than ordinary Prudence and Circumspection, the present calls upon us to use our utmost Precaution, not to determine too hastily upon so critical and important a Conjuncture; but to consider thoroughly what the Honour and Dignity of my Crown and Kingdoms, the true Interest of my People, and the Engagements we are under, to the several Powers we are in Alliance with, may in Justice and Prudence require of us.
"I have therefore thought it proper to take Time to examine the Facts alledged on both Sides, and to wait the Result of the Councils of those Powers, that are more nearly and immediately interested in the Consequences of the War, and to concert with those Allies, who are under the same Engagements with me, and have not taken Part in the War, more particularly the States-General of the United-Provinces, such Measures as shall be thought most adviseable for our common Safety, and for restoring the Peace of Europe.
"The Resolutions of the British Parliament, in so nice a Juncture, are of too great Moment not to be carefully attended to, and impatiently expected, by all, and not the least by those, who will hope to take Advantage from your Determinations, whatever they shall be, and to turn them to the Prejudice of this Kingdom. It must therefore be thought most safe and prudent, thoroughly to weigh and consider all Circumstances, before we come to a final Determination.
"As I shall have, in all my Considerations upon this great and important Affair, the strictest Regard to the Honour of my Crown, and the Good of my People, and be governed by no other Views, I can make no Doubt, but that I may entirely depend on the Support and Assistance of my Parliament, without exposing myself, by any precipitate Declarations, to such Inconveniencies, as ought, as far as possible, to be avoided.
"In the mean Time, I am persuaded, you will make such Provisions, as shall secure my Kingdoms, Rights, and Possessions, from all Dangers and Insults, and maintain the Respect due to the British Nation: Whatever Part it may, in the End, be most reasonable for us to act, it will, in all Views, be necessary, when all Europe is preparing for Arms, to put ourselves in a proper Posture of Defence. As this will best preserve the Peace of the Kingdom, so it will give us a due Weight and Influence, in whatever Measures we shall take in Conjunction with our Allies: But should the Defence of the Nation not be sufficiently provided for, it will make us disregarded abroad, and may prove a Temptation and Encouragement to the desperate Views of those, who never fail to flatter themselves with the Hopes of great Advantages from publick Troubles and Disorders.
Gentlemen of the House of Commons,
"I shall order the Estimates to be laid before you of such Services, as require your present and immediate Care. The Augmentation, which will be proposed for the Sea Service, will be very considerable; but I am confident it will be thought by you reasonable and necessary. I must particularly recommend to your Care the Debt of the Navy, which has every Year been laid before you; but, from the present Circumstances of the Times, I believe you will think it now requires some Provisions to be made for it, which cannot well be longer postpon'd, without manifest Detriment to the publick Service.
"As these extraordinary Charges and Expences are unavoidable, I make no Doubt but you will effectually raise the Supplies necessary for defraying of them, with that Readiness and Dispatch, and with that just Regard to the true Interest of my People, which this Parliament has hitherto shewn upon all Occasions.
My Lords and Gentlemen,
"It is at all Times to be wished, that the Business of Parliament might be carry'd on free from Heats and Animosities, and with that Temper, which becomes the Justice and Wisdom of the Nation: At this Time it is more particularly to be desired, that this Session may not be protracted by unnecessary Delays, when the whole Kingdom seems prepared for the Election of a new Parliament; an Event which employs the Attention of all Europe: And I am very well pleased, that this Opportunity offers of taking again the Sense of my People in the Choice of a new Representative, that the World may see how much their true Sentiments have been mistaken, or misrepresented. Those who see and hear only at a Distance, may easily be imposed upon, and from thence conceive false Hopes or Fears; but I am confident a little Time will effectually remove all groundless Surmises, and it will be found that Great Britain is always to act that Part, which the Honour and Interest of the Nation calls upon them to undertake."
Mr John Campbell's Motion for an Address of Thanks.
The Commons being return'd to their House, and the Speaker having reported his Majesty's Speech, Mr Campbell, Member for Pembrokeshire, mov'd, 'That an Address of Thanks be presented to the King, for his most gracious Speech from the Throne: To acknowledge his Majesty's Goodness in the Concern he had express'd upon account of the War unhappily begun in Europe, and his Majesty's great Wisdom in using so much Precaution upon that critical Conjuncture, in waiting the Result of the Councils of those Powers, who were more nearly and immediately interested in the Consequences of the War, and in taking time to examine the Facts alledged on both Sides, and to concert with those Allies, who were under the same Engagements with his Majesty, and had not taken Part in the War, such Measures, as should be thought most advisable for the common Safety, and for restoring the Peace of Europe: To declare their unfeigned Confidence in his Majesty, that in all his Considerations upon that great and important Affair, his Majesty would have the strictest Regard to the Honour and Dignity of his Crown and Kingdoms, and to the true Interest of his People: And to assure his Majesty, that he might intirely depend upon the Support and Assistance of his faithful Commons, in such Measures as he should find it necessary to enter into, for attaining and securing these great and valuable Purposes: And that that House would make such Provision for the Safety and Defence of the Nation, as should secure his Majesty's Kingdoms, Rights and Possessions from all Dangers and Insults; as might preserve the Respect due to the Crown of Great Britain; and not give any Encouragement to the desperate Views of those, who never fail to flatter themselves with the Hopes of great Advantage from publick Troubles and Disorders: And to assure his Majesty, that that House would immediately take into their Consideration such Estimates and Demands, as should be made by his Majesty for the publick Service; and raise the Supplies, which should be necessary and answerable to the present Exigency of Affairs, with their known Zeal and Chearfulness, and with a due Regard to the Interest of their Fellow-Subjects: And, that the publick Business might be dispatched with all proper Expedition, that they would endeavour to avoid all Heats and Animosities, and all Occasions that might tend to protract this Session by unnecessary Delays.
Mr Campbell was seconded by Mr Stephen Fox, and back'd by Lord Tyrconnell: Hereupon Mr Shippen stood up and spoke as follows,
'I believe it has always been taken for granted, that the Speeches from the Throne are the Compositions of Ministers of State; upon that Supposition we have always thought ourselves at Liberty to examine every Proposition contained in them; even without Doors People are pretty free in their Remarks upon them: I believe no Gentleman here is ignorant of the Reception the Speech from the Throne, at the Close of last Session, met with from the Nation in general. It is not to be doubted, but the same Freedom may be taken with any Proposition made by any Gentleman in this House, in consequence of such Speech. I will not say the Question moved by the Honourable Gentleman, was penned by the same Hand that penned his Majesty's Speech tho' there is a good deal of Reason to believe it.
'As to the Motion, I have one very great Objection to the whole; it is too cautiously and too generally worded: Under such general Expressions there may be Designs concealed, which the Gentleman, who penned the Motion, does not think proper now to declare; but when they come to be explained, this House may then probably find itself drawn into some Difficulties, by making use of such uncertain Expressions in the Address now proposed. There is indeed one Paragraph, which I shall now particularly lay my Finger on; I cannot pretend to repeat the very Words, for we, who hear the Speech and the Motion but once read, are obliged in some manner to shoot flying; I think it proposes for us to say in our Address, 'That we will support his Majesty in all 'those Measures, which he shall think it necessary to enter into.' Now, I am afraid, that under such a general Expression, there may be couched, or at least it may hereafter be insisted on that there is couched, a Promise of a Vote of Credit, and therefore I should be willing to have those Words a little explained; for I shall always endeavour, as much as I can, to prevent this House being rashly drawn into such Promises: I shall not pretend to offer any Amendment till I have heard other Gentlemen's Sentiments; I now only lay my Finger upon this Part of the Motion; after other Gentlemen have spoke, I may possibly give my Opinion farther, and perhaps offer an Amendment; but I could wish rather that the Words were lest out.'
Sir John Hynde Cotton.
Sir John Hynde Cotton spoke next:
'I agree in a great Measure with the Motion; but I have an Objection to the Passage where we promise to provide for the Security of his Majesty's Kingdoms, Rights, and Possessions: Now, Sir, these last Words are so general, that I am afraid they may include his Majesty's German Dominions; I am persuaded they will be understood in this Sense by all without Doors, whatever this House may intend to mean by it: The Gentleman who opened the Debate has, 'tis true, satisfy'd me and I believe every Gentleman in the House, that no such Thing is intended; but I think it likewise necessary to satisfy the World without Doors; I think it incumbent upon us, to assure our Constituents, that no such Thing was ever meant, and therefore I think it will be proper to add some explanatory Words; for which Reason I shall beg Leave to move for this Amendment, viz. that the Words, thereunto belonging, may be added after the Word Possessions, so that the Sentence will run thus, 'As shall secure his Majesty's Kingdoms, Rights and 'Possessions, thereunto belonging, from all Dangers and Insults.'
Hereupon Mr Campbell replied:
'I believe I did open the Affair before us in the Manner the honourable Gentleman was pleased to mention: But it was not from an Opinion, that there really was any Possibility for putting such a Sense upon those Words, as the Gentleman seems to be apprehensive of: They are so fully explained, both by what goes before, and by what comes after, that there is no Room for imagining, they ever were meant to comprehend his Majesty's German Dominions; every Man must see they relate only to the foreign Rights and Possessions belonging to the Crown of Great Britain: I gave some Explanation of them, only to preclude any Exception being taken, by Gentlemen's considering those general Words by themselves, and without Regard to what went before, or followed after: But to any Gentleman either within or without Doors, who considers the whole together, there cannot so much as a Doubt arise about the Meaning; they can relate to nothing but what belongs to his Majesty as King of Great Britain, therefore I cannot think there is the least Occasion for the Amendment proposed.'
Then Lord Coleraine stood up and said:
'The Gentleman who spoke last, has not in the least satisfied me, as to the Meaning to be put upon the Words objected to; for if those Words be taken in a strict grammatical Sense, they must certainly comprehend his Majesty's German Dominions: Those Dominions are certainly a Part of his Majesty's Possessions, and as such must be comprehended under those general Words; nor can I see any Restriction put upon them, either by what goes before, or what follows after; even the Amendment proposed, will not, I am afraid, be sufficient to restrain them as they ought to be, and therefore I am of Opinion, that the Amendment ought to be in these Words, belonging to the Crown of Great Britain; so as that the Sentence may run thus, 'As shall secure his Majesty's Kingdoms, and all the Rights and Possessions belonging to the Crown of Great Britain, from all Dangers and Insults.'
Mr H. Pelham.
Mr Henry Pelham spoke next, as follows:
'The Question moved by the honourable Gentleman was, I thought, so aptly worded, and, to use my worthy Friend's Expression, so cautiously worded, that I did not imagine any Objection would have been made to it. As to the Words, Rights and Possessions, the proper Meaning of them seems to me certain and apparent: Doubts have lately been raised about some of those Dominions, which properly belong to the Crown of Great Britain; and tho' there never was any Foundation for those Doubts, yet some Gentlemen have strongly insisted there was still something wanting, something farther necessary to be done, in order to secure her Enjoyment of those Possessions: From that Consideration alone, if there were no other, every Gentleman must conclude, all that could be meant by those general Words, was, to comprehend the several British Possessions in foreign Parts; but as to his Majesty's German Dominions, as they in no way belong to the Crown of Great Britain, which is mentioned in the very next Sentence, I can't believe any Gentleman in this House, or without Doors, will ever imagine they were meant to be comprehended under those general Words, therefore I can't think any Amendment necessary.'
Then Mr Pulteney stood up and said:
'When I heard his Majesty's Speech, and the Motion made by the honourable Gentleman, I was in Hopes, Sir, we should have separated to Day without any Debate; yet I must own, the Words taken Notice of by my honourable Friend [Mr Shippen] did at first strike me a little. I was indeed a little afraid of the Consequences, or at least of the Use that might be made of such Words, but I was resolved to pass them over in Silence: However, now they are taken Notice of, I must say, some Amendment in order to restrain them a little, will not be unnecessary. I am not for leaving them out entirely, because one Part of his Majesty's Speech would stand without any Answer; and I am unwilling this House should, upon any Occasion, shew the least Want of Respect and Complaisance towards his Majesty. I therefore take the Liberty to propose an Amendment, but I must acquaint the House, that the Motion I am to make, is without any View of making a Difference or Division among us this Day; nor shall I insist upon it, if not entirely agreeable to every Gentleman in this House. I know very well, we are not tied down by any general Expressions in an Address of Thanks to his Majesty: But I remember, a Vote of Credit passed in this House, towards the Close of a Session, [See Vol. I. p. 393.] for which there was no other Foundation but some general Expressions in the Address of Thanks, which had been voted the first Day of the Session, in Answer to his Majesty's Speech from the Throne; and therefore we ought to be extremely cautious in agreeing to any Sort of Words, from whence the Promise of a Vote of Credit may be afterwards inferred For this Reason I shall beg Leave to add a few Words by Way of Amendment, viz. Provided such Measures shall appear to this House to have been necessary for obtaining such Ends. In which Case the Paragraph, taken Notice of by my worthy Friend, will run thus, 'And to assure his Majesty, that he may entirely depend upon the Support and Assistance of his faithful Commons, in such Measure as he shall find it necessary to enter into, for attaining and securing these great and valuable Purposes; provided such Measures shall appear to the House to have been necessary for obtaining such Ends.'
Sir R. Walpole.
To this Sir Robert Walpole replied:
'The honourable Gentleman who spoke last has propose an Amendment, but has not made any direct Motion for that Purpose; and he was pleased to say, what he proposed was without any View of making a Difference or Division among us; I am very glad to find that Gentleman is now come to be of that Way of Thinking, for nothing can contribute more to the Honour of this House, than a Harmony are Unanimity in all our Proceedings; therefore I hope the Gentleman will not insist upon the Amendment he has proposed.
'One of the Objections to the Question before us, made by the Gentleman, who spoke first against it, was, that it was too general, and worded with too much Caution This is an Objection of a very new Nature; the chief objection to Addresses of this Nature has generally been, that they descended too much into Particular, and were not worded with proper Caution. From this general Objection the Gentleman was pleased to come to a Particular, and took Notice of some Words under which, he said, he believed Vote of Credit was intended to be couched: But does not every Gentleman in this House know, that his Majesty never desires any such Thing as a Promise of a Vote of Credit, nor has it ever been usual, for this House to make any such Promise? The usual Method has always been, whenever his Majesty wanted any such Thing as a Vote of Credit, he always acquainted the House of it by a direct Message for that Purpose; therefore there is now no Ground to presume an Intention of couching a Promise of a Vote of Credit, under any general Words proposed to be put into the Address.
'As to the Case mentioned by the honourable Gentleman who spoke last, I don't remember there was ever any Vote of Credit, founded upon a pretended Promise contained in the Address of Thanks at the Beginning of the Session. There may have been a Case, but I cannot say whether it may have been a late Case, or one of an older Date: However this I am certain of, that no such Thing is intended by the Words now objected to, nor will there, I believe, be any such Use made of them.
'The other Objection is equally without Foundation. I do not believe it can so much as once enter into the Heart of any Man to imagine, that by the Words Rights and Possessions, this House means to include his Majesty's German Dominions: If ever those Dominions should come to be in such Danger, as that his Majesty should find it necessary to ask the Assistance of this Nation, he would certainly do it by direct Message to Parliament; I am very sure, at present, no such Thing is thought of, nor is there the least Shadow of Reason for suspecting there will be any Occasion for such Demand: The Words, Rights and Possessions, must there are be understood to relate only to the foreign Possessions belonging to Great Britain; had those Words been left out, to willing Minds, at least, it would have afforded a Pretence for the raising of much greater Alarms without Doors; it then might probably have been said, that we were going to give up some of those valuable Possessions we have abroad; possessions so valuable, that I hope this Nation will never consent to give them up.'
'Upon the whole, Sir, however unwilling some Gentlemen may pretend to be, to create Differences and make Divisions in this House, I am persuaded, nothing but a Desire to do so, could have raised Objections to the Question now in your Hand, and as I have not heard any Colour of Reason for supporting the Amendments offered, I must be against them.'
Sir W. Wyndham.
Sir William Wyndham spoke next:
'Tho' the honourable Gentleman, who spoke last, does not seem to remember the Case mentioned by the Gentleman who spoke just before him, I remember it well, and I speak of it with the greater Confidence, because this very Morning I look'd over some of the Journals of the House, together with my honourable Friend, by which I found that famous Vote of Credit was agreed to in this House, April 12, 1727. towards the Close of the Session: I remember there was a very thin House, and no other Foundation for that Vote, hardly indeed any material Argument offered in Favour of it, than what has been mentioned by my honourable Friend. I remember it bore a very strenuous Debate, and that the Gentleman [Mr Winnington] who sits behind the honourable Person who spoke last, had a very considerable Share in that Debate, and was one of the Tellers against the Question.
'Whether any such Use is now intended to be made of the general Expressions objected to, I shall not say; but that I do not take to be the Matter in Dispute: The proper Question is whether any such Use can be made of those general Expressions? For if it can, we are not to depend upon the Assurances of any Member of this House that it will not; therefore, lest any such Use should hereafter be made of those general Expressions, it is highly necessary some Words should be added, for restraining them to what is now declared to be the Meaning and Intention of them: For my own Part, I am very easy about it, because I am now free to declare, that if ever any Vote of Credit of the same Nature with those lately agreed to, be proposed or moved for in this House, I shall always be against any such, as long as I have the Honour to sit in this House; nor shall any general Words, or any express Promise contained in any former Address, be of the least Weight with me in such a Debate.'
Sir Will. Yonge.
Hereupon Mr Winnington gave an Account of the Vote of Credit agreed to in the Year 1727: But Mr Gibbon and Mr Sandys objecting to his Account of that Transaction, Sir William Yonge spoke as follows:
'I was at some Distance, when the honourable Gentleman on the Floor first mentioned the Case, which seems now to be the Subject of Debate; and tho' I had not look'd into the Journals this Morning, yet I could not but think it was impossible, that ever any House of Commons should have proceeded in the Manner represented. I have now look'd upon the Journals of that and the preceeding Session, and as I have the Book in my Hand, I shall from thence set that Matter in a clear Light. In the Year 1726, his late Majesty sent an express Message to the House of Commons then sitting, [See Vol. I. p. 369.] by which he acquainted them, that in order to prevent and frustrate such Designs, as had been formed against the particular Interest of this Nation and the general Peace of Europe, he found it necessary not only to augment his Maritime Force, but to concert such other Measures as might most effectually conduce to these desirable Ends; and as these Services would require some extraordinary Expence, his Majesty hoped he should be enabled, by the Assistance of Parliament, to encrease the Number of Seamen then before voted and granted for the Service of that Year; and to enter into and make good such Engagements, as the Circumstances and Exigency of Affairs might require. Upon this Message, the House of Commons, as in Duty they ought, voted and presented an Address to his Majesty, [See Vol. I. p. 370.] that he would be pleased to make such Addition to the Number of Seamen then before voted; and to concert such other Measures, as his Majesty should in his great Wisdom think would best conduce to the Security of the Trade and Navigation of this Kingdom, and to the Preservation of the Peace of Europe; and assured his Majesty, that the House would effectually provide for, and make good all such Expences and Engagements, as should be made for obtaining those great and desirable Ends.
'At the Beginning of next Session his Majesty, in his Speech [See Vol. I. p. 375.] expresly said, That as the Expence, he had in the preceeding Year been in a particular Manner intrusted to make, had amounted to no considerable Sum; and the publick Utility might again require the like Services to be performed, he hoped they would again repose the same Trust and Confidence in him. To this the House of Commons, in their Address of Thanks, [See Vol. I. p. 382.] as expresly answer and promise, that they would repose such a Trust and Confidence in his Majesty, as the publick Utility should require, and as his Majesty should find reasonable and necessary for carrying on the great Work, in which his Majesty was engaged, for the Interest and Security of his People, and the common Cause of Europe.
'Thus every Gentleman may see, that the Vote of Credit agreed to at the End of that Session, was not in Consequence of a few general Words in their Address of Thanks, in Return to his Majesty's Speech at the Beginning of the Session: But in Consequence of an express Demand in the Speech, and as express a Promise in the Address of Thanks; and from thence, I think, every Gentleman may see how vastly different that Case is from what is now the Subject of Debate.'
Then Mr Scrope stood up, and gave an exact Account of the several Votes of Credit passed by the House; and declar'd it to be his Opinion, that there was no Occasion for any Amendment to the Address: Hereupon Mr Pulteney rose up again and said,
'The honourable Gentleman, who spoke last, has, in a few Words, explained how the several Votes of Credit have been granted; he and I do not differ much in our Accounts; but the honourable Gentleman, who spoke with the Book in his Hand, and set out with a Promise of clearing that Matter fully, has, in my Opinion, and, I believe, in the Opinion of every Gentleman who heard him, left the Matter just where he found it; therefore I would advise him, for the future, to speak without Book.
'Can any Gentleman imagine, that, in Consequence of the Paragraph of his late Majesty's Speech mentioned by the honourable Gentleman, or the Answer thereto in the Address of Thanks, a Vote of Credit was or ought to have been agreed to, without a new Message from his Majesty, signifying, that the publick Utility did actually again require the reposing of such a Trust and Confidence in his Majesty, as had been reposed in him the preceeding Year? Does any Gentleman suppose, that this House is to repose such a Trust and Confidence in the Crown, only because it is demanded by the Crown, and without assigning any Reason for so doing? No, Sir, I appeal to every Gentleman present when that Address was agreed to, whether he did not think, that all that was meant or intended by those general Assurances in their Address of Thanks, was, that they would again repose the same Trust and Confidence in his Majesty, if upon a new Message, it could be shewn them, that the publick Utility required it: But Gentlemen found afterwards another Use made of those general Expressions; they were at the End of the Session made the only Argument for agreeing to a Vote of Credit; and lest the same Thing should be again practised, we ought to be extremely cautious of putting any such general Expressions in our Address of Thanks.
'When I first stood up, I said I had no Intention of making a Division or Difference amongst us to Day, and the honourable Gentleman, who spoke next after me, said, he was glad to find me in that Way of Thinking. Sir, I am now in the same Way of Thinking I always was; and if other Gentlemen think in the same Way they have lately taken up, I am afraid we shall have many and great Differences before this Session can well be at an End. The honourable Gentleman said he did not remember, whether the Case of a Vote of Credit I mentioned was of a late or old Date: Alas, Sir, there are no such Votes of Credit to be found of an old Date; Votes of Credit of old were of a very different Nature, they were never so much as asked, but for some particular Purposes expresly mentioned; the Sum was always limited; the Parliament became Sureties only for that Sum; and an exact Account was afterwards given to Parliament to what Purposes the Money so granted was applied: But our late Votes of Credit have all been granted in the Dark; we have granted Sums unlimited without knowing to what Uses the Money so to be raised was to be applied; and we could never have any proper Account, tho often asked for, how the Money was disposed of.
'However, Sir, tho' I wish we may separate to Day without any Division, yet I hope we shall have many Days after this to enter into the Consideration of Affairs of very great Consequence. The calamitous Situation of our Affairs both at Home and Abroad necessarily requires the Consideration of Parliament: There are many, many Grievances both foreign and domestick, under which the Nation groans at present, and which call loudly for Redress; therefore, tho' we promise not to protract or prolong the Session by unnecessary Delays, yet I hope we shall not separate before we have taken all those Matters properly under our Consideration: The State of the Nation must be called for, and, I dare say, this House of Commons, which has shewn so much Regard for their Fellow-Subjects, will envy any succeeding House of Commons the Glory of redressing those many Grievances we now labour under: On such an Occasion, I hope, Gentlemen will be emulous who shall attend best; and when such a Spirit of Liberty appears over the whole Nation, I am convinced no Man will dare desert his Duty in this House, when Affairs of such Moment demand his Attendance in Parliament.'
Mr Campbell's Motion agreed to.
The above Amendments not being insisted on, the Question was put upon Mr Campbell's Motion, and agreed to without a Division: A Committee was also appointed to draw up an Address of Thanks accordingly.
January 18. The said Address was reported to the House and agreed to, as follows:
Most gracious Sovereign,
We your Majesty's most dutiful and loyal Subjects, the Commons of Great Britain in Parliament assembled, beg Leave to return your Majesty our humblest Thanks for your most gracious Speech from the Throne.
'We are truly sensible of your Majesty's Goodness; and hear with the deepest Sense of Gratitude the Concern you are pleased to express, for the War unhappily begun in Europe; and acknowledge with the highest Satisfaction this new Proof your Majesty has given us, of your great Wisdom in waiting at this nice and critical Juncture, the Result of the Councils of those Powers, who are more nearly and immediately interested in the Consequences of this War, before your Majesty makes any final Determination for your own Conduct; not wondering, that the same Prudence and Precaution, the same Concern and Circumspection, that have guided and directed every Step hitherto taken in your Majesty's happy and auspicious Reign, should now induce you to take Time to examine the Facts alledged on both Sides, and to concert with those Allies, who are under the same Engagements with your Majesty without having taken Part in the War, particularly the States General of the United Provinces, such Measures, as shall be thought most adviseable for the common Safety, and for restoring the Peace of Europe.
'That your Majesty in all your Transactions, in this great and important Affair, will have the strictest Regard to the Honour and Dignity of your Crown and Kingdom, and to the true Interest of your People, is what not only your Majesty's royal Assurances, but our happy Experience of all your Majesty's past Conduct leave us no Room to doubt.
'And as we have an entire Confidence in your Majesty's Judgment to discern, and Solicitude to procure the Welfare and Interest of your Subjects, so your Majesty may depend upon the effectual Support and ready Assistance of your faithful Commons in all such Measures, as your Majesty shall find it necessary to enter into for attaining and securing these great Ends.
'And we beg Leave farther to assure your Majesty, that your Commons will make such Provision for the Safety of your Kingdoms, as the present Situation of Affairs and Exigency of the Times require; such Provisions, as shall effectually secure your Majesty's Kingdoms, Rights, and Possessions, from all Insults and Dangers; as shall preserve the Respect due to the British Nation Abroad, and guard its Safety at Home; that not the least Encouragement may be given to the desperate Views of those, who never fail to flatter themselves with Hopes of some Advantage from Publick Troubles and Disorders, and of molesting the inseparable Interests of your Majesty and your People.
'Such Estimates and Demands, as your Majesty shall think fit to lay before your Commons for the Publick Service, shall be immediately taken into our Consideration; and your Majesty may depend on our known Zeal for raising such Supplies, as shall be necessary and answerable to the present Circumstances, with our usual Chearfulness and approved Fidelity, and a due Regard both to the Ease and Interest of our Fellow Subjects.
'And that the Publick Business may be dispatched with all proper Expedition, and the present Session not protracted by any unnecessary Delays, we will endeavour to avoid all Heats and Animosities, and to proceed with that Unanimity, which the Justice and Prudence of your Majesty's mild and wise Government may expect and claim, and may give Weight to our Deliberations, and maintain the Dignity of Parliament.'
Jan. 19. The above Address was presented to the King, who return'd the following Answer:
The King's Answer thereto.
"I Return you my Thanks for this very dutiful, affectionate, and loyal Address, and for the Confidence you repose in Me, which, you may be assured, shall always be employed for the Honour of my Crown, and the true Interest of my People."
An Address for a Copy of the Treaty between his Majesty and the Emperor, in 1731. Resolv'd on. ; Sir J. Rushout moves for Copies of the Instructions sent to the British Ministers in France and Spain, relating to the Execution of the Treaty of Seville, to be laid before the House.
Jan. 23. The House resolv'd, That an Address be presented to his Majesty, to give Directions, that a Copy of the Treaty between his Majesty and the Emperor, concluded at Vienna in the Year 1731, with the secret and separate Articles, and the States Generals Act of Concurrence to the same, should be laid before the House. Then Sir John Rushout stood up, and mov'd, 'That an humble Address be presented to his Majesty, that he would be pleased to give Direction, that the Letters and Instructions sent to his Majesty's Ministers at the Court of France and Spain, relating to the Execution of the Treaty of Seville, should be also laid before the House; upon which ensu'd a Debate, in which Sir William Yonge spoke as follows:
'I do not stand up, to say any Thing against the Power, which this House has of calling for whatever Papers they may think necessary, to give them proper Lights into any Affair they are going to take under Consideration: That the House has such a Power, is what I believe no Gentleman will deny; but then every one must grant, that this Power ought to be used with great Caution and Discretion; no Papers ought to be called for, but those which properly relate to the Affair in Hand, and without which it would be impossible to understand fully and clearly what we are to be about. It has been resolved to address his Majesty, to order a Copy of the Treaty of Vienna to be laid before us, but I cannot apprehend what Connection there is or can be, between that Treaty and the Letters and Instructions sent to our Ministers at the Courts of France and Spain, relating to the Treaty of Seville. Can it be supposed, that those Letters and Instructions have any Relation or Concern with a Treaty afterwards concluded with the Emperor, who was not at that Time in good Terms with either of the other two Courts? As all such Negotiations are carry'd on in the most secret Manner possible, it cannot, in my Opinion, be supposed, that our Ministers, either at the Court of France or Spain, knew any Thing of those Negotiations at Vienna, which so happily ended in that Treaty; and therefore it is impossible to suppose, that we can, from the Letters and Instructions sent to them, receive any Light or Information, with respect to the Treaty of Vienna now called for.
'But granting, Sir, that some possible Connection might be found out, between the Treaty of Vienna and the Letters and Instructions which the honourable Gentleman has been pleased to move for, yet there is another Rule to be observ'd in the using that Power which this House has of calling for Papers, which, in the present Case will be an effectual Bar to the Motion: Tho' this House has a Power of calling for Papers, yet we ought in no Case to call for those Papers which may contain Secrets, the publishing whereof might be of signal Disadvantage to the Commonwealth; I believe it will be granted, that a Secret communicated once to this House, is in great Danger of not remaining long a Secret: It was never known that a Secret was long kept by any such numerous Assembly; and therefore we ought to be extremely cautious, and never call for any Papers which may contain such Secrets. For my own Part, I do not pretend to know the Nature of those Instructions or Letters; but it is certain, that some of them may contain something not proper to be publish'd to the World at this Juncture; the publishing of them might, perhaps, open old Sores, and give Offence to some of those Powers with whom we have at present a good Understanding; by which his Majesty's Negotiations for restoring the Tranquility of Europe might be very much embarassed, perhaps render'd entirely fruitless; and therefore I cannot but think, that any such general Call for Papers is now, and always will be of dangerous Consequence.
'If this House should at any Time hereafter resolve to take the Treaty of Seville into their Consideration, when that Day comes, if any Gentleman of this House can then lay his Finger on any particular Paper, which he thinks may be necessary for the Information of the House, he may then move for it, and the House may, if they think proper, agree to such a Motion: But to make such a general Motion as the present, and to call for all the Letters and Instructions sent to our Ministers at those two Courts in general, I think most improper and irregular, and therefore I shall give my Negative to it.'
Sir William Wyndham.
To this Sir William Wyndham reply'd,
'Notwithstanding what the honourable Gentleman, who spoke last, has said, I cannot help being of Opinion, that the Motion made by my honourable Friend is regular, and that the Papers he has called for, are such as must necessarily tend to give the House a great deal of Information, not only with relation to the Treaty of Seville, but likewise with relation to the Treaty which we shall soon have, I hope, laid before us, in Pursuance of the Resolution we have just now come to; and therefore I take it to be as proper now, as it can be when the Day comes which the Gentleman speaks of.
'As to any Secret which may be contain'd in the Papers call'd for, and which it would not be proper at present to publish to the World, that can be no Argument against the Motion; because, if that should happen to be the Case, his Majesty would communicate to us none but such as contained no such Secrets; and in his Answer to our Address would acquaint us, that the other Letters or Instructions contained such Secrets as were not proper to be reveal'd at present: This would be a proper Answer from his Majesty, and such an Answer as this House would certainly rest satisfied with, unless some very strong Reasons appeared to the contrary: But, Sir, this is an Answer which ought not to be taken from any other Person but his Majesty; It is below the Dignity of this House to take it from any other; it is what no Member of this House ought so much as to infinuate; for any such Insinuation is offering an Indignity to the Crown, because it seems to be a dictating to his Majesty, and prescribing to him what Answer he is to make to the Address of this House. The Gentleman spoke of opening old Sores, and that the publishing of those Papers might give Offence to some of those Powers we are now in Friendship with: This seems to be a very extraordinary Reason against the Motion; for I am sure this Reason will hold equally good against calling for any Treaty, or any Paper relating to foreign Negotiations; and I can see no Difference between denying that the House has a Power to call for any Papers, and making Use of an Argument, which, if allow'd, would render that Power altogether ineffectual: But, Sir, I would gladly know what Prince, what State there is now in Europe, whom we have not disobliged and fallen out with by Turns; and shall it be said, that the publishing of those Negotiations which we carry'd on while we were at Enmity, or at least not in a cordial Friendship with them, will open those Sores which were entirely healed up by a new Treaty afterward concluded with them? Does not every Gentleman see, that this Argument strikes against this House's ever desiring to have any foreign Treaty or Negotiation laid before them, except such as have been before published to the World?
'As to the Connection between the Papers now moved for and the Treaty just before call'd for, it is in my Opinion evident: For what End have we called for a Copy of the Treaty of Vienna? What are we to consider of, when we enter into the Consideration of that Treaty? Are not we to consider, whether it was for the Benefit of this Nation, or not? And how shall we determine this, without knowing the Circumstances, or those Affairs, which made it necessary for us to conclude such a burthensome Treaty? It is well known, that by that Treaty we enter'd into very great Engagements; Engagements, which, if punctually perform'd, may cost this Nation infinite Sums of Money; and Engagements which we certainly ought not to have enter'd into, if the publick Tranquility could have been established at any cheaper Rate. Is it to be presumed, that the Impossibility, which was found of carrying the Treaty of Seville into Execution, without involving ourselves and all Europe in a bloody War, was what made it necessary for us to agree to those Engagements contain'd in the Treaty of Vienna: And how is it possible for us to determine, whether or no there was an Impossibility of carrying the Treaty of Seville into Execution, without having all those Papers first laid before us, which relate to the Execution of that Treaty? It was, I remember, when first concluded, a Treaty which was much bragg'd of by the Friends of the Gentleman who spoke last; and if it was so good a Thing, I cannot find out why he or his Friends should be so fond of keeping secret either the Means by which it was obtain'd, or the Methods that were afterwards used for carrying it into Execution. As to the Means by which that Treaty was obtain'd, they may not, perhaps, relate much to the Treaty of Vienna; but as to the Methods used for carrying it into Execution, the last of which was the Treaty of Vienna, every Man must see the Connection, and therefore every Man must be convinced, that it is necessary for us to have the Papers now moved for laid before us, before we can properly take the Treaty, of Vienna into our Consideration.
'His Majesty, Sir, in his Speech from the Throne, recommends the present Situation of Affairs to the Consideration of Parliament; he recommends it to us throughly to weigh and consider all Circumstances before we come to a final Determination; but if such Things as are necessary for our Information are, when call'd for, refused by those in Power, how is it possible for us to answer his Majesty's Expectations? It must be owned, that we have of late Years been in very odd Circumstances; and our present Situation may, perhaps, in the Opinion of many, be owing, in some Measure to the Mismanagement of those in the Administration; I shall not say it is so; but if this be not the Case, I can see no Reason for refusing the Papers now called for; and if this be really the Case, it ought certainly to be inquir'd into; and the Papers now call'd for, as well as a great many others, must necessarily be laid before us, in order to enable us to make a proper Inquiry, and to apply proper Remedies for those Evils which the Nation labours under at present. Upon the whole, Sir, as I said at first, I think the Motion now made to us most regular; I think it is absolutely necessary for us to have those Papers laid before us; for without them, I am sure, the Resolution we have just now come to can be of no Effect, and therefore I hope the House will agree to the Motion.'
Sir R. Walpole.
Sir Robert Walpole spoke next:
'I stand up to agree in some Part with the honourable Gentleman who spoke last: If we are at present in any unhappy Situation, and if it be but thought, by any Gentleman in this House, that that Situation is any Ways owing to the Mismanagement of those in the Administration, in my Opinion, whoever thinks so, ought to move for this House's going into such an Inquiry; they ought to move for the House to go into a Committee upon the State of the Nation; and, upon the Foot of such an Inquiry, I will willingly join Issue with the honourable Gentleman, or any other Gentleman in this House. Whenever the House shall please to resolve upon going into such a Committee, I promise, that so far as lies in my Power, nothing shall be refused, that is thought proper or necessary for giving the House all the Information, that can be wished or desired: But as that Time is not yet come, I must think that the Motion now under Consideration is very irregular, and seems calculated rather for giving Gentlemen an Opportunity of declaiming against those, who have the Honour to serve the Crown, than for procuring any proper Information to the House, or any Advantage to the Country.
'It is usual, Sir, for some People to make Motions, rather to fix unpopular Things on others, than to have any Information for themselves: They make Motions in order to make a Figure in the Votes, which are sent to all Parts of the Nation, and to serve some particular Ends of their own: When a Negative is put upon any such Motion, they are then ready to cry out, 'We would have reliev'd you, we would have extricated you from all the Difficulties you labour under, but we were by Power deny'd the Means of doing it.' This, Sir, is a Piece of Management, it is a Sort of Parliamentary Play, which has always been practised by those who oppose the Measures of the Administration; I remember it as long as I remember Parliaments, and have by my own Experience been acquainted with it: I can remember Motions made with no other View, but to have a Negative put upon them; and particularly at the Beginning of a Session, the Language among such Gentlemen has always been, 'We must give them no Rest, but make Motion after Motion; if they agree in any Motion we make, it will distress them; and if they put a Negative upon every one, it will render them odious among the People.'
'This, I say, has been always the common Practice of those who are resolved, at any Rate, to oppose the Administration; but I must take Notice that to say, that any Motion in Parliament is refused by Power, is, in my Opinion, a very unparliamentary Way of speaking: When any Motion is made, every Gentleman is at Liberty to debate with Freedom upon it, and to agree of disagree as he thinks reasonable; if it be rejected, it must be by a Majority of the House, and becomes an Act of this House; and to say, that what is an Act of the House, is an Act of Power, is not, I think, speaking in the Language of Parliament.
'I shall likewise agree with the honourable Gentleman, that when any Papers are moved to be called for, the House is not to be told by any Member, or any but his Majesty, that such Papers contain Secrets which must not yet be discover'd; but I hope the Gentleman will agree with me, that it is below the Dignity of this House to present insignificant Addresses to his Majesty; we are not to desire of his Majesty what, evidently and at first Sight, appears to be such as his Majesty cannot comply with; and therefore, when a Motion for any such Address is made, any Gentleman of the House may, nay he ought, if he thinks so, to rise up and shew to the House, that what is desired by the Address moved for, is of such a Nature, that his Majesty cannot comply with it; and this I take to be the Case now before us. In most publick Negotiations, there are some Things may happen which ought never to be revealed; in every Negotiation, some Things, I believe, do happen, which ought not to be published to the World for a great many Years after; and therefore it must be very irregular to desire his Majesty to lay before this House, that is, to publish to the World, all the Letters and Instructions relating to a Negotiation, which happen'd but a very few Years ago.
'Gentlemen may assign what Causes they please for the Treaty of Vienna; but when that Treaty comes to be considered by this House, I believe it will appear, that we thereby entered into no extraordinary or burdensome Engagements; it will appear, I believe, that we are not thereby obliged to do any Thing, but what we were by the Nature of Things, and by the Circumstances of the Affairs of Europe, obliged to do, if no such Treaty had ever been made. If this should appear, it will then be certain, that what the honourable Gentleman was pleased to mention, was not the true Cause, or the only Foundation of the Treaty of Vienna; so that, 'till this House has entered into the Consideration of the Treaty of Vienna, and has found that the Engagements thereby entered into were such, as we ought not to have taken upon us, if there was any other Way left of carrying the Treaty of Seville into Execution, without entering into a War; 'till such Time, I say, it cannot so much as be pretended, that there is any Connection between the Letters and Instructions relating to the Execution of the Treaty of Seville, and the Treaty of Vienna now resolved to be called for; and therefore, 'till that Time, the Motion now before us cannot be a proper or a regular Motion.
'Before I conclude, Sir, I must take Notice, that the Way which some Gentlemen have got into, of making Panegyricks, and praising the Ministers for their great and profound Wisdom by way of Irony at one Time, and at other Times calling Names, such as, A cowardly Administration, a wheeling, shifting Ministry; (though by the By, I never understood the present to be a shifting Administration; for, as I take it, the great Quarrel amongst us is, that the Administration has not been shifted) such a Way, I say, Sir, is a Method of Speaking, which very ill becomes any Member of this House. Though I cannot agree with Gentlemen who say, that this Nation is at present in so unhappy a Situation; yet I must grant that the Affairs of Europe are not at present in a very happy Situation; and if the Errors or Mismanagement of any of the Administration here, has contributed in the least to the present Posture of Affairs in Europe, I must think that they very little deserve to serve the Crown; but really by some Gentlemen's way of Talking, one would imagine that the Ministers of England were the Ministers of Europe; or that Madness and Folly reigned at this Court, and that the most prosound Wisdom prevail'd at all others: If any unforeseen Accidents abroad, if the Ambition of any foreign Prince, or the Misconduct of any foreign Court, produce any untoward Effects, or occasion any Troubles or Commotions in Europe, the Ministers of England are immediately loaded with the Whole; it is they that have done the Mischief, and they must answer for it. This, Sir, is a way of treating those who have the Honour to serve the Crown, which to me really seems neither candid nor just: However, I shall trouble you no farther, but only to declare that I shall be against the Motion, which the honourable Gentleman has been pleased to make.'
To this Mr Shippen answer'd,
'As the honourable Gentleman, who spoke last, has made grievous Complaints of the Treatment he and his Friends receive from other Gentlemen, I am a good deal surprized that he should, at the same time, fall into that very Error which he so much complains of in others; for to say, that Gentlemen make Motions, only for the Sake of having an Opportunity to declaim against those in the Administration; or for the Sake of making a Figure in the Votes, is Language, in my Opinion, as unparliamentary, and treating Gentlemen with as little Candour, as what he has blamed others for.
'I must say, Sir, that it seems to be a very difficult Matter, to know how to please those great Men in the Administration; for I find that when any Encomiums are made upon them, when any Thing is said in Praise of their Measures, they immediately take it to be meant by way of Irony; and if any Gentleman happens to give them any Nameswhich may seem to be a little harsh, those they understand exactly as they are spoke, and complain that Gentlemen do not treat them in a parliamentary Way: But, Sir, whatever other Gentlemen may do, I am none of those who have bestowed Panegyricks either upon the present or upon any Administration, and I hope I never was, or ever shall be guilty of calling Names. Perhaps the honourable Gentleman may dislike those Names, which he pretends have been given to him in this House; whether it be parliamentary Language or not I shall not determine, but I must tell him, that it is very soft and pleasant. Language when compared with that of the People of England: Were he to hear them speak, he would hear them speak in a Stile very different from that used at Court, or even in this House; and I believe it would be for his Advantage, to give a little more Attention to the plain Language of those he looks on to be none of his Friends, than to the soothing Flatteries of his Creatures and Parasites about him.
'Sir, Gentlemen may make themselves merry, but what I have said may perhaps, when it is too late, be found to be true; and whatever the honourable Gentleman and his Friends may pretend to think of the present Motion, I must be of Opinion, that it is not only reasonable, but that it is a natural Consequence of what was immediately before moved and agreed to; and therefore I hope this House will act so consistently with itself, as to agree to the present Motion likewise. What Information we may get from the Papers moved for, with regard to the Treaty of Vienna, the Gentleman who has seen them can best tell; but as that Treaty was the immediate Consequence of the Negotiations relating to the Execution of the Treaty of Seville, I must think that the Journal of those Negotiations will afford us some Light, with regard to that Treaty which immediately followed; and therefore I hope the Gentleman will excuse me for not taking it upon his Word, that the Papers called for can have no Manner of Connection with the Treaty, which we seem now resolved to take into Consideration.'
Mr Pulteney spoke next:
'I stand up now, as I have been obliged to do upon many other Occasions, to assert the Rights and the Privileges of this House; we have not only a Right to call for what Papers we think necessary for our Information, but we have a Right to have the Papers so called for, laid before us. The honourable Gentleman on the Floor seems highly offended at an Expression, which drop'd from my honourable Friend by me. I will agree with him, that this House may or may not agree with the present, or with any other Motion, that shall hereafter be made by any Gentleman in this House: This is a Privilege, which I hope shall always be preserved, not only in Show, but in Reality; I hope no Gentleman shall ever attain to such a Power, as to have a Majority in this House always ready to approve what he pleases to propose; and I will likewise agree with him in this, that when any Motion is rejected by a Majority, it then becomes an Act of the House, in which every Gentleman must acquiesce; but I hope he will agree with me, that 'till the Question is put upon any Motion, and the Opinion of the House taken upon it, it does not become an Act of the House; Now, as no Question has yet been put upon the present Motion, and as it has yet been opposed only by those who are immediately concerned in the Administration, I think it may properly be said, that what has been asked has been refused by Power, or at least by those in Power.
'The Gentlemen, who opposed this Motion, are forc'd to acknowledge, that this House has a Power of calling for what Papers we please; but then, say they, you ought not to call for the Papers relating to any foreign Negotiation, because all such Papers must contain Secrets which ought not to be published to the World. Is not this saying and unsaying in the same Breath? You may call for what Papers you please; but you must not call for the Papers relating to any foreign Negotiation, because the Addressing for those appears, at first Sight, to be such an Address as his Majesty cannot comply with. Sir, I say, that when this House finds it necessary, they may call for all the Papers relating to any Negotiation whatever, and may insist upon having all of them laid before the House. Do not we know, that upon such Occasions we name a secret and select Committee to inspect such Papers, and to report what they find in them relating to the Affair under our Consideration; and I hope we shall always have in this House ten or a dozen Gentlemen, as capable to distinguish what ought to be kept secret, and as capable to keep those Secrets, as any Secretary or other Minister of State, that is or ever shall be in this Nation.
'I am really surprised to hear Gentlemen pretend, that there is no Connection between the Negotiations for carrying the Treaty of Seville into Execution, and the Treaty of Vienna; when by that very Treaty of Vienna the Treaty of Seville was actually carry'd into Execution. It is plain to the whole World; that the Treaty of Vienna was the last Negotiation set on Foot for carrying the Treaty of Seville into Execution; and in order to judge of this last Negotiation, we only desire to see the Papers relating to the preceding Negotiations, which were carry'd on for the same Purpose. It may, for what I know, be true, that by the Treaty of Vienna we enter'd into no Engagements, but such as we were obliged to by the Nature of Things, and the Circumstances of the Affairs of Europe; but it must surely be granted; that an express Stipulation is more binding than a natural Obligation; and that no prudent Man will confirm a natural Obligation by an express Stipulation, unless he has some very good Consideration for so doing: If we had enter'd into no express Engagements, we should have left our Posterity in the same Case we were in ourselves; they might then have judg'd as well as we, by the Nature of Things and the Circumstances of the Affairs of Europe, as they should then have appear'd to them; but now they are pinned down, they must judge only by the Terms of the Treaty which we have made for them; and though the Nature of Things and the Circumstances of Europe, should be entirely alter'd, it will, without Doubt; be insisted on, that they ought to perform those Engagements we have subjected them to.
'The honourable Gentleman said, that if the Nation was in an unhappy Situation, and if that Situation was owing to any Mismanagement at Home, it ought to be inquired into; and that, on the Foot of such an Inquiry, he was ready to join Issue with any Gentleman in this House. On that Foot, Sir, I am ready to join Issue with him: To me there is nothing appears more certain, than that we are in a most lamentable and calamitous Situation; and even from the Lights I have already I am convinced, beyond all Doubt, that our present Situation is owing to the Mismanagement of those at home: It may, I believe, be proved, to the Satisfaction of every unbiassed Person; but I must say, that if the honourable Gentleman's Opinion prevails in the present Debate, he is taking a very effectual Method to prevent its being in the Power of any Gentleman to bring Proofs of what I have now asserted. While he is possessed of all or most of the Materials necessary for such a Proof, it is an easy Matter first to deny Gentlemen any Access to them, and then to throw out a Defiance; but this will not, I hope, be in his Power; I hope this House will, in the present Question, join with me in Opinion, that it is absolutely necessary for us to have the Papers now call'd for, laid before us.
'I would gladly know, how it is possible for the Parliament to give the Nation any Relief in its present melancholy Circumstances, if we deny Access to those Particulars from which only we can know what our present Situation is. If the Question should come before us, Whether or no we ought to take any Part in the present War? Can we pass any Judgment upon such a Question, without first knowing how we stand engaged to the several Powers abroad? And can we know any Thing of this, without first examining the many Treaties and Negotiations which have been carry'd on of late Years? If we are to take no Part in the War, we must provide for the Safety of the Nation: How can we do this properly, and as it ought to be done? How can we judge of the Estimates that are to be laid before us for that End, without knowing what Danger the Nation is in? And how can we know our Danger, without knowing how we stand with respect to our foreign Alliances and Engagements? For these Ends, Sir, we must have not only the Papers now moved for, but, in my Opinion, a great many others will be necessary, in order to give us those Lights which we ought certainly to have.
'As I have said before, Sir, even as Things now appear to me, all that has happen'd is the Work of our own Hands; the Weakness of those whom many already look upon as our Friends, and the Strength of our Enemies, is all of our own doing; Gentlemen were told of it at the Time when those Transactions were carrying on, but they were too wise to listen to Advice. When the whole Chain and Series of our Management for several Years past, comes to be impartially look'd into, what I now say will be found to be true: Certain Causes will be found producing certain Effects; these Effects afterwards becoming Causes, and producing other Effects, 'till at last we have arrived at the miserable State we are now in; but these are Matters, which I hope will soon come to be more fully open'd, and clearly stated to this House.
The honourable Gentleman said, 'That Motions were often made with no other View, but to have Negatives put upon them;' if that be the Case as to the present Motion, the Gentleman and his Friends may easily disappoint us of the Negative we are supposed to expect; and I wish with all my Heart, that the Gentleman would give himself the Pleasure of disappointing me and some other Gentlemen, the obliging of whom did never, I am persuaded, yield him any great Delight.'
Mr Danvers stood up next, and spoke as follows:
'I am entirely against your Question; I think it is a most unreasonable Proposition; and that it would be altogether as right and as dutiful in us to address his Majesty to bring his Cabinet, with all the Papers in it, and lay it upon the Table, or upon the Floor of this House, to be perused by the Members. An honourable Gentleman, who spoke last but one, talked of the Language of the People of England, and seemed to insinuate, as if they abused and railed at the Ministry. As to that, I have been, since last Session, in several Counties of England, and have conversed with People of different Parties, and I never heard any Man reproach the Ministry; on the contrary, they seemed all to think, that the only Dispute among us here was who should be Minister; and as this is a Dispute which the Generality of the People of England are no way concerned in, Gentlemen are much mistaken, if they imagine that the People of England trouble their Heads about it.'
The Question was then put upon Sir John Rushout's Motion, and carry'd in the Negative, by 195 to 104.